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Seal v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 3, 2017

TAMI R. SEAL
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

         SECTION: “A” (4)

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN WELLS ROBY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is an action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to Title 42 of the United States Code § 405(g). The Commissioner denied Tami Seal's claim for a Title II application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits of the Social Security Act, Title 42 United States Code § 1382c.

         The matter was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to Title 28 United States Code § 636(b) for the submission of Proposed Findings and Recommendations.

         II. Factual and Procedural Summary

         Tami Seal is a fifty-eight-year-old female with a high school education who last worked as a seamstress, legal secretary, substitute teacher and call center supervisor with a disability allegedly beginning on November 1, 2006. R. Doc. 11-3, Tr. 87-104. Seal filed for Disability Insurance Benefits with the Social Security Administration on November 22, 2013. Id. Shealleges that she is disabled and unable to work because she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”), fibromyalgia, cognitive problems, depression, degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis and diverticulitis. Id. at Tr. 87.

         On July 3, 2014, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) found that Seal was not disabled. Id. at Tr. 87-104. On August 18, 2014, she filed a request for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the Social Security Administration's Office of Hearings and Appeals. R. Doc. 11-4, Tr. 127-28. Administrative Law Judge Thomas G. Henderson conducted a hearing on December 11, 2014 and a supplemental hearing on July 23, 2015 in which he reviewed the SSA's decision to deny Seal's application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits. R. Doc. 11-2, Tr. 27-78. On September 2, 2015, the ALJ found that Seal was not disabled and not eligible for Supplemental Security Income Benefits. Id. at Tr. 6-26. On October 23, 2015, the Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's determination. Id. at Tr. 1-4.

         On December 24, 2015, Seal filed the subject complaint seeking judicial review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). R. Doc. 1. Both parties have submitted their briefs for consideration by the Court.[1]

         III. Findings of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)

         On September 2, 2015, the ALJ, issued a decision denying Seal's request for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits. R. Doc. 11-2, Tr. 6-26. The ALJ found that Seal was not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1, 2006 through her last date of insured of December 31, 2008. Id. at Tr. 11. He found that Seal had the following severe impairments: depressive disorder-not otherwise specified, major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Id.

         The ALJ further concluded that Seal's impairments or combination of impairments did not equal or meet the requirements of any impairment listed in Appendix I, in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart B, and Appendix 1. Id. at Tr. 14. The ALJ found that through the date of last insured, Seal had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with non-exertional limitations of simple, routine, repetitive tasks; no fast paced production work or work with quotas and no close coordination with co-workers. Id. at Tr. 15. The ALJ found that through the date last insured Seal was unable to perform any past relevant work. Id. at Tr. 19.

         The ALJ also held that, while Seal is not able to perform any past relevant work, that she is a younger individual according to the regulations who is able to communicate in English and whose job skills transferability is not material to the determination of disability because the Medical Vocational Rules supported a finding that she is not disabled” whether or not she had transferable job skills. Id. at Tr. 19. Thereafter, the ALJ found that considering Seal's age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity (“RFC”) there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy Id. at Tr. 20. The ALJ concluded that Seal has not been under a disability since November 1, 2006, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2008, the date last insured. Id. at Tr. 21.

         After Seal's request was denied at the administrative level, she sought review from the Appeals Council who denied her request. Id. at Tr. 1-4. On December 24, 2015, Seal filed a complaint in this court challenging the ALJ's decision on several grounds.

1. Whether the ALJ's decision is based upon substantial evidence where he concluded that the allegation of MS was not a medically determinable impairment due to lack of objective medical evidence, failed to considered medical evidence and rejected the treating physician's medical opinion?
2. Whether the ALJ's RFC Assessment is based upon Substantial Evidence?
3. Whether the ALJ's opinion is based upon substantial evidence because he failed to give controlling weight to Seal's ...

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